If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would one day attend a farming course, I would probably have laughed. It’s fascinating how life changes. How our interests shift and evolve as we grow older. Farming was a million miles away from my reality when I was working in the media industry. I was quite unaware of the food I was eating and even less aware of where it was coming from or how it had been grown. But as I became more interested in nutrition and health, whole foods and produce started to take up a huge part of my life. Vegetables and fruits, these gorgeous creations of nature, have never ceased to amaze me since then. They are now my companions in the kitchen, the ones I use daily in my cooking, and the heroes of the recipes you see here in this space.
So when I came across this incredible Urban Farming Experience program offered right here in the city, on an organic farm, I had a calling. I knew I had to attend the program. It was non-negotiable. The only missing link to my experience and knowledge of nutrition to this day was this one. Understanding at the experiential level where the produce I’m cooking with everyday comes from. How it’s grown. How it’s taken care of. Its challenges. Its strength. Its resilience. And its beauty.
This is how I’m going to spend all my Monday nights for the next 6 months. Two hands in the dirt, digging, planting, weeding, harvesting. Learning the whole process of organic farming and ultimately experimenting the satisfaction and joy of growing gorgeous produce from scratch.
Earlier this week we harvested on the farm some delicious arugula and beautiful purple mustard greens that Kat, the inspiring lady behind Lady Gaia, had planted before the course started. These mustard greens were so lovely, I knew they had to find their place into this week’s post. So they became my muse for this spring socca. If you haven’t used mustard greens before, you might be surprised by their spicy taste. They have a very distinctive flavour and make a wonderful and truly unique pesto. The sweetness of the peas balances out the spiciness of the pesto, and the socca is the perfect vehicle to tie all of this deliciousness together.
If you’re not familiar with socca, you’ll be amazed at how delicious and easy-to-make this traditional French crêpe is. Socca is made with a simple mix of chickpea flour, salt, water and oil. Simplicity at its best. There are different ways to cook and eat socca (look it up online and you’ll find many). I like to either make it really thin and crispy, or serve it as a pizza like I did here. I usually top mine with a pesto, but it’s also delicious served with a salad, a tapenade, veggies and greens, or eaten as is, with your hands. This socca makes a delicious main course or a lovely appetizer. It is the perfect bite for a festive gathering with friends or for a dinner on the patio on a warm spring evening.
Notes: This recipe makes one 10-inch pizza-like socca. For a thinner/crispier socca, simply cook the socca in two batches in a smaller skillet.
- 1 cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil or ghee, divided
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups packed mustard greens (about 1 bunch)
- ¼ cup chopped brazil nuts (or other nut)
- 2 small garlic cloves
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup peas (fresh, or frozen and thawed)
- 1 cup pea shoots
- The zest of 1 small lemon
- In a medium bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, sea salt and black pepper. Add water and 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil or ghee and whisk to combine.
- Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, make the pesto. Place mustard greens, brazil nuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt and lemon juice in your food processor and blend.
- With the food processor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop and scrape down the edges as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Place a 10-inch oven-proof pan (I used a cast iron pan) on the top rack of your oven and turn on the broiler. Heat for about 4-5 minutes, until the pan is hot.
- Remove the pan from the oven, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Give the socca batter one last whisk and pour careful into the hot pan. Swirl it around to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
- Set back in the oven and cook for 5-8 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the edges are crispy. The middle should be cooked but still tender. Cooking time will vary depending on your broiler, so make sure to keep an eye on it so it does not burn.
- Use a spatula to remove the socca from the pan. Spread mustard green pesto on top of the socca. Top with pea shoot, peas and lemon zest. Cut into slices and serve.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”